a love letter to/from lisbon

take me with you
’cause even on your own
you are not alone

 

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i love you.

i love you, so much.

i have to keep pinching myself to remind my brain that you’re real, because loving by halves, like austen, isn’t my nature, and if something else has been taking up all the space in my brain, i’d like to know.

take me with you 
’cause even by yourself
you are something else

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this city has consumed me. i have been lost for more hours than i have been asleep; danced drunk for longer than i thought possible, eaten so many pastries i thought i would turn into one; made so many impulse maroon purchases that i wanted to forget that money was a thing; fallen on slippery cobblestone in the rain despite several attempts not to…

one summer turns into ten summers
one lover turns into ten others
but this memory is still with me

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you are a wonder amongst wonders. you are more than i can comprehend. you are all that i need to be thinking of to find myself. you are pale blue skies and obnoxious church bells ringing. you are every combination of strength and gentleness that i ever wished to find. i don’t wish for much anymore.

so close, bring me in so close
your clothes underneath my clothes
once upon a time in portugal

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in lisbon i have found parts of myself that i didn’t know i had lost. i found that a hostel can really become your home, that 3 am is an acceptable time to start partying, that getting a reassuring squeeze from a then-stranger from calgary, maine, los angeles, virginia, spain, luxembourg or india can really alter the course of your night, and that sometimes swiping your card and seeing what happens is really the best adventure that there is. i learned that i can write a short story about a thunderstorm of a person from a perspective that isn’t mine in dour days, and that it can be good.

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i arrived in lisbon with an arfrikaans property developer that i met on the plane, food poisoning, and a fear that i would run out of money. i start my journey back home via luanda in about 8 hours. i’m leaving lisbon with a cold, a new sweatshirt, no money, and a very, very full heart.

thank you for having me, lisboa.
thank you for having me, you.

i love you.

love and light,
shalom xo

Six Things I’ve Learned Preparing For My Upcoming Trip

If you’ve been around here before, you’ll know that I’ve spent most of this year (a) going through the absolute most, and (b) saving for a trip to Portugal. If you haven’t, or didn’t know: welcome! I’ve spent most of this year saving for a trip to Portugal.

In May this year, I was watching my favourite travel vloggers and considering the novelty of travelling somewhere alone. So I used mine and every other broke traveller’s saving grace, Skyscanner, to look for a cheap flight from Johannesburg (Any) to Anywhere. I was looking for the first and cheapest thing off of the African continent, and the beautiful city of Lisbon popped up and stole my heart.  And money.

After a session or three of I-can’t-sleep-so-let-me-research-this-decision sessions, i decided to tell my sisters, brother and mom that I would be going to Portugal in November. My mom laughed, and older sister looked at me and said, “I’m coming too”. And that was that. We had six months to raise all of the money we would need, and too many problems that tried to throw us off. So. Here are some things I’ve learned:

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A VALID PASSPORT / VISA / VACCINATIONS.

This seems pretty obvious, but 2016 just so happened to be the year where both of my passports expired right before I needed to book flights. Check your passport(s). I ended up renewing both of them by myself and felt very adult-like, but I was still pressed for time for flights.

BOOK FLIGHTS EARLY!

Some tips on booking flights: most places where you buy a flight online have a booking fee, and if you’re a broke bitch like me or if you just want to save money, call into the place first – the booking fee is usually waived when you call in or go instore. Book early. That lucrative price you’re drooling over? You’re gonna keep drooling. Because it’s going up in three, two…

HOSTELS > HOTELS.

Why on earth would you stay in a hotel that you know you can’t afford if you could stay in a hostel, meet new people from all over the world who are travelling cheaply just like you, and still receive free breakfast and wifi? Y’all. Come on now. When deciding which hostel to stay in, check reviews and make sure you don’t pass over a great deal because there’s a bigger hostel overshadowing a little gem.

MONEY IS PROBLEM. KINDA.

Look, money is funny. There’s never enough of it, and just when you think you have enough, you remember that the exchange rate on Google isn’t the same rate the bank is going to give you. Walking into a forex place with a wad of cash and coming out with ten notes is a little discouraging, but you’ll survive. Have a plan. Capitalise on the free breakfast. Do your research on where to eat and how to move around cheaply. You’ll live. (I’m hoping you will. I’ll let you know if I do in about a week or so.)

LEARN A LITTLE OF THE LANGUAGE!

Even if it’s just little things like asking where the bathroom is, or how to say left and right so that you can interpret directions. Languages are amazing and impossible to avoid, so rather prepare yourself and know how to get to the airport shuttle than having a breakdown in the airport. 10/10 would recommend googling ‘(language) for tourists’.

PSYCH YOURSELF UP FOR TRAVELLING ALONE.

My sister and I are going on different dates because of exam clashes, and I’m a little scared about being alone. No, I’m not a wimp for this – I’m just scared. I’m going to travel through a country alone and make a stop in another’s airport (I see you, Angola) and it’s gonna be a little scary. But that’s okay, because I know I just have to feel the fear and to the thing anyway. I mean, I paid for it! I may as well. It may not be sunshine and rainbows from jump, so prepare yourself for the anxiety, fear, and wonder that comes with flying solo.

In three dayS, I’m going to write an exam, come home, say goodbye to my family and then hop on the train (subway? metro? gautrain.) to the airport. I’m going to leave for Portugal via Angola with nobody watching my back but myself. I’m excited beyond belief. Prepare yourself for the inevitable spam.

love and light,
shalom xo

 

united divided states.

i’ve taken several deep breaths before starting this. my name is shalom. i am eighteen years old, and live in south africa. i am an american-south african dual citizen. i was born on the east coast of the usa. i voted for hillary clinton in the presidential election. the last sixty hours have been a mess – in my brain and in the world. here’s what we know:

  • donald trump won the us presidential election
  • mike pence will be the 45th vice president of the usa
  • mike pence believes that state funding should go into electrocuting and torturing lgbtq youth until they are heterosexual
  • donald trump, the man who wants to ban a religion, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the man who is on trial for child rape, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the bigoted, hateful man endorsed by the kkk will be the 45th president of the usa

now, if all of the above doesn’t bother you, your privilege is beyond belief.

when hillary clinton lost the election, so much more happened. i don’t care about how you feel about hillary clinton. i don’t care if you think she’s a scammer. i don’t care if you hate her for being a woman. i don’t care if you think obama was wrong for supporting her. i care that so many of us have now lost.

a win for donald trump  is terrifying, not only because of trump and pence, but because of what it means. what it means is that the people who stand against immigrants, literally built the country from the ground up, are free to act on their hatred. the people who agree that lgbtq youth need a good beating, electric shock treatment, or death to cure their queerness are backed by the president. the people who believe that america was great 200 years ago when black people could be stolen, bought, and sold are validated. hatred won. sexism and misogyny won. homophobia, radical racism, and white supremacy won. america; red, white, and blue. is black in there too?

so what now? what does the muslim family that has lived in a republican state do now that 48 hours after the announcement, and 69 days before he takes office, trump’s supporters have threatened them to the point where they cannot walk in public? what do the people with so many intersectionalities, like black, trans, disabled, woman, do? what is to become of this country that voted ethnic cleansing in, when it’s founding fathers were immigrants? what are marginalised minorities to do when white americans — who’s ancestors were ALL IMMIGRANTS — threaten every element of their safety? what is to become of the united divided states of america when the commander is chief is literally a demagogue flexing? he is history repeating. seriously.

 

america, we messed up. to the 17 000 people who wrote in harambe, and hennessey – is this still funny to you? lives are at stake, now more than ever. is this a joke? to the bernie sanders supporters who wrote him in after he asked you to vote hillary – you knew what would happen. i will not hold this against you, but you took action fully aware of the consequences. same thing for third party voters. you know what you did.

now, we rebuild. again.

we remember that the sun will rise tomorrow. we remember that the capacity for kindness that we all hold can never be taken away by someone in the white house. we cry. we drink. we listen to fourfiveseconds on repeat really loudly. we pray. we protest. we do all that we can to continue every day fighting the hardest that we ever have for all that we believe in. we unfriend and unfollow the trump voters because they do not care about us. we remember why we believe in this country. we listen to president obama. we practice gratefulness. we use our voices. we create. we listen to senator clinton. we do not grow weary. we continue to do as much as we can for as many as we can for as long as we can. we keep on. we rest in each other.

 

the world is broken, but hope is not crazy. the usa was built on immigrants like founding father alexander hamilton, who time and again, get the job done. the usa was built on my parents who came for education, and threw their hearts into a country that never loved them back. the usa will be rebuilt on the love of our generation and not the hatred of trump. commit to love.

only only only love & hope,
shalom xo

 

a letter to my thighs | honest letters #2

Dear left thigh and right thigh,

You two have been kept apart for so long, and I know that now that you spend every waking (and sleeping) hour touching each other, you’re a little uncomfortable. Let me tell you, I’m pretty bloody uncomfortable myself.

I know you resent the lack of the comfy distance between you two. That elusive thigh gap that made you two stay away from each other and made me “skinny” is gone, and my two hands can no longer perfectly fit around one of you. I know that it sucks and I know that it’s partially my fault for spending 30% of my allowance on food before the month even starts. I get it! But I’m not sorry. I’ve been working out, like, loads. Okay. Not loads. Enough. I go to Wits! Everything is a fricken 15 minute walk from everything. I literally make sure that you get exercise every day because we all walk home together. See?

I know that this isn’t satisfying, and that you’d still like to know why you’re stuck together, and the reason is this: estrogen.

Niiiice, Shalom, blame it on the hormones blah blah blah. I am blaming it on the hormones! It’s their fault! I’m sorry for not consulting with you before I started this birth control, but it was a bit of a split-second-try-to-save-yourself-from-your-body-that-may-be-trying-to-kill-you decision. Hormone regulation isn’t fun. Trust me, I didn’t sacrifice your personal space because hoe is life. Though, if I did, you’d have to shut up and deal. I appreciate that.

I know that you hate the fact that I have to have to unstick you guys and that all the god forsaken chafing is driving you up the wall, but I want you to know that I love you. I mean, maybe I don’t yet, but I’m really trying to.

We’ve been through a lot together. You’ve literally held me up for eighteen and a half years and I’m really grateful for you leg-parts. We’ve made it through ballet and eating disorders and sports politics and running from robbers with guns and dancing on people at parties. This is a change, and maybe you’re making me buy new pants for the first time in six years, but I’m gonna stick this out with you.

Thanks for being part of me.

love and light,
shalom xo

monthly me | october 2016

I’m a little shocked that it’s already November, but mostly relieved that this hellhole of a year is coming to a close. October was treacherous, and filled with work and being broke and protests and stress and anticipation and love and sadness and pride. Also, my laptop broke, and I haven’t managed to have her fixed. So. October.

from the camera roll

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walk home from the bus ft. sunset. #blessed

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bless you, picnics and popsicles

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joburg pride ’16

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picnic with high school friends and new friends and a massive afternoon of love.

october

I spent most of October trying to find out what I mean to the people who mean the world to me. I took myself out a couple of times and paid up my outstanding amount on my flight to Lisbon! I’ve been preoccupied with the Portuguese city because I’m headed there in TWO WEEKS and cannot wait. Joburg Pride was amazing, and the solidarity was ridiculously awesome. There was so much love in the sapce. I also considered whether I was falling in love or whether I just wanted to squeeze my friends really tight and tell them I adore them – the latter was correct. October also saw me being faced with literally life-changing decisions with regards to my moving from South Africa, and making split second choices over coffee. I think I’ve made the right one.

obsessions

Not to Disappear is one of the best albums of 2016 – I got it the day of release, and I’m still listening to it. This song, and Made of Stone have been on repeat this month (along with the entire album). Fave lyrics: I don’t know you now but I’m lying here somehow; I feel sick (Fossa); You’ll find love, kid; it exists (Made of Stone).

still i pledge allegiance to these UNITED DIVIDED STATES
things that make me patriotic: voting in this election and leslie odom jr and sara bareilles and broadway and theatre and talent and barack obama

snippets of internal monologue

  • I really don’t think I can do this job anymore. I might yell at this kid. LORD. PATIENCE PLEASE.
  • I am SO buying that underwear. Trap liiiiife!
  • Wait, does that mean I have to organise a farewell party? Oh man oh man oh
  • If I fail intro to law can I put an end to this intro to suffering?
  • SHALOM. YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY. HOE DON’T DO IT. HOE, DON’T YOU DO IT. OH MY GOD YOU’RE DOING IT?

November hasn’t started off on the best note – I was robbed for the 5th time this year on the 3rd, and I’m currently a panicky mess about my exams and my travel plans and my future. It’s not all bad though – breathing hasn’t become any more difficult or easy. That, I can deal with.

love and light,
shalom xo

2016 IS A BITCH.

THIS YEAR HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LOAD OF ABSOLUTE PRACTICAL JOKENESS ON MY LIFE. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.

Ah, 2016. This year was supposed to be filled with promise, new adventures, love and all round awesomeness. It was going to be amazing. We’re in November now, and I’ve never been more sure of the second coming of Christ in my life. There is NO WAY that everything will go back to normal after this – what even is normal? What even has 2016 been?

This year I have:

  • been punched (and still made to pay double) by a taxi driver
  • been robbed four times
  • gotten accepted into a bunch of Canadian universities then was forbidden to go
  • had two phones stolen from me
  • seen the south african government give zero fucks about the future of the youth and the education crisis in the country
  • had my laptop, my baby Gertrude, completely give up on me
  • gone through a messy breakup (messy as in I was a mess, I cried for three weeks straight and my mother thought I would dissolve into tears)
  • been blackout drunk at a res party and ended up crawling through the halls, earning me the reputation of “that drunk girl who was crawling at the first EOH party” according to one boy
  • seen the bankrupt guy from the apprentice be nominated as the republican candidate for the presidency
  • beaten a man up on the sidewalk in self defence
  • lost R200 in one go
  • been flat broke and had my account in overdraft enough times to almost have the bank freeze my accounts
  • had my new bank account frozen for three weeks with my allowance in it
  • been fired
  • managed to be broke 24/7 despite working three jobs
  • had three pairs of headphones
  • lost the first pair at the first uni party, the second at the first res party and somehow managed to will the third to stop working
  • had people completely cut me off without any explanation
  • tripped in heels at least six times
  • run out of a restaurant during a really awkward date by answering a fake phone call and yelling “gee i’ve got to go like right now oh man bye!”
  • broken at least four pairs of shoes
  • sliced my fingers open with knives, bottle caps, washing machines, cupboards, and tins of jam
  • facilitated nine successful hookups in a day and none of my own (call me wingman extraordinaire)
  • had the hot water in my house off for two weeks
  • had to change my holiday to lisbon three times because my sister’s exams got shifted
  • been threatened with rape by the police
  • had my godmother not respond to my emails
  • had two colleges just…not process my application (they just didn’t do it)
  • very nearly came close to being in a fight with a drug addict at pride, and
  • have no bras that fit my new and improved birth control boobs.

It sounds like a joke! How can this much absolute crap happen to one human being in ten months?  Who’s puppy’s tail did I stand on in a past life? This year has been a mess. I am currently a mess. I have work in three hours, an exam on the two days following today, and a travel agent to call. I hate phonecalls.

I have a couple of posts coming up including a l0ok back on Joburg Pride (which was a fantastic day where I’m almost 100% certain I found my pal Ash a wife), my October rewind, a lil talk about police brutality and probably more angsty rants. I am going through the MOST.

love and light,
shalom xo